New Worship, New Land

Posted: December 15, 2016 in Ezekiel, Uncategorized

Ezekiel 46-48, “New Worship, New Land”

It’s been often said, “Where God is, heaven is in the midst,” and how true it is!  Heaven isn’t heaven because of good feelings, lack of pain, or even reunion with loved ones (as wonderful as those things are!).  Heaven is heaven because Jesus is there.  Heaven is heaven because we’ll be dwelling with the Lord.  If that’s the case, can heaven ever be on earth?  Sure: when God dwells with His people!

That is exactly what is promised to Ezekiel as his book of prophecy comes to a close.  Ezekiel knew from first-hand experience what it was like to be removed from the presence of God.  He was among the first waves of captives removed from Jerusalem during the Babylonian conquest.  Thankfully, Ezekiel received many incredible revelations from the Lord, but many of those things were things he did not wish to see.  Ezekiel saw the sin of Israel confirmed – he saw the glory of God depart from the temple – he saw the deserved judgment of God come down firmly upon his nation.  But Ezekiel also received glimpses of restoration.  Things that were hinted earlier in the book came into full view starting around Chapter 40.  God promised that the nation would be restored, and there would be a glorious new temple in which one day Israel would worship Him in joyful truth.

Those descriptions continue in Ch 46-48.  There is renewed worship – renewed land – and (best of all) a renewed relationship with the Lord as God dwells among His people.

Ezekiel 46 – Millennial Offerings
1 ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “The gateway of the inner court that faces toward the east shall be shut the six working days; but on the Sabbath it shall be opened, and on the day of the New Moon it shall be opened. 2 The prince shall enter by way of the vestibule of the gateway from the outside, and stand by the gatepost. The priests shall prepare his burnt offering and his peace offerings. He shall worship at the threshold of the gate. Then he shall go out, but the gate shall not be shut until evening. 3 Likewise the people of the land shall worship at the entrance to this gateway before the LORD on the Sabbaths and the New Moons.

  1. Remember that the outer gate to the sanctuary was shut for everyone else, because the glory of the Lord has passed through it.  The one exception was for the prince. (44:1-3)  There’s a bit of confusion as to whether that refers solely to the door to the sanctuary itself, or to the eastern gate leading into the inner court of the temple.  In any case, it is clear that this eastern gate remains shut at least six days a week, and is only opened for the use of the prince as he comes to offer his sacrifices.  The prince does not personally prepare the offerings (that’s a duty that remains for the priests), but he supervises the work while the gate remains open.
  2. When does it occur?  On the Sabbaths & New Moons – IOW, on a weekly & monthly basis.  Remember that the Hebrew calendar is lunar (as opposed to solar), so the monthly New Moons played a role in letting the Hebrews count off the year & the appropriate dates for their various feasts.  Just as during the Mosaic covenant, sacrifices will be offered during the Millennial time as well.
  3. What exactly was to be offered is what Ezekiel was told next…

4 The burnt offering that the prince offers to the LORD on the Sabbath day shall be six lambs without blemish, and a ram without blemish; 5 and the grain offering shall be one ephah for a ram, and the grain offering for the lambs, as much as he wants to give, as well as a hin of oil with every ephah. 6 On the day of the New Moon it shall be a young bull without blemish, six lambs, and a ram; they shall be without blemish. 7 He shall prepare a grain offering of an ephah for a bull, an ephah for a ram, as much as he wants to give for the lambs, and a hin of oil with every ephah.

  1. That’s a lot of offerings!  Vss. 4-5 describe what was to be brought on the weekly Sabbaths, and vss. 6-7 describe what was to be brought on the monthly New Moons.  (As will be seen later, there are daily offerings performed at the Millennial Temple as well.)  Why so much?  Because it’s a constant reminder of the reality of sin.  Remember that the Millennial Kingdom, though it is a different dispensation than our current age, is not yet the eternal state.  As the Church, we will be enjoying glorified resurrected bodies with our Lord Jesus, free from the very temptation of sin – but those living on earth at the time will not.  Obviously they will be living in a perfect government, on a drastically different earth, but they will still have the capability to sin – and many of them will sin.  The various sacrifices do not erase or forgive their sins (only the sacrifice of Jesus at the cross does that), but they are a constant reminder of the price of sin.  The wages of sin is death, and thus when we sin, something has to die.  Thankfully, Jesus paid that price for us, so that none of us have to!
  2. It’s also a reminder that the Sabbath day (among other things) is not just a day off from work.  It’s more than a rest from physical labor; it was a specific Hebrew feast celebrating the covenant they had with God, and that included very specific sacrifices to be brought to God’s place of worship.  This is one of the reasons that a legalistic view of the Sabbath should not be held today.  There is only one sacrifice that is sufficient, and that is Jesus.  He’s done the work, so we rest in Him.
  3. How were the various sacrifices to be offered?  In an orderly fashion.  Vs. 8…

8 When the prince enters, he shall go in by way of the vestibule of the gateway, and go out the same way. 9 “But when the people of the land come before the LORD on the appointed feast days, whoever enters by way of the north gate to worship shall go out by way of the south gate; and whoever enters by way of the south gate shall go out by way of the north gate. He shall not return by way of the gate through which he came, but shall go out through the opposite gate. 10 The prince shall then be in their midst. When they go in, he shall go in; and when they go out, he shall go out.

  1. This is purely practical.  The prince has his way in & out of the temple & sanctuary; the people have their own way.  The stream of people is to flow from north to south, providing orderly movement across the temple grounds.  Instead of people wandering every which way, God gives them specific instructions where to go & what to do.
    1. That’s the very practical interpretation for Israel, but that doesn’t mean there is no application for us as the church.  Our God is a God of order; He is not the author of confusion. (1 Cor 14:33)  When we come before Him to worship as a congregation, we do so in an orderly fashion.  That’s why we don’t see people jumping up to speak in tongues, or interrupting the message with prophecies, or falling over in worship times, etc.  Those acts are disorderly, and if they truly are given by the Holy Spirit, then they are acts that can be exercised at the will of the person to whom the Spirit gives them.  The Spirit doesn’t interrupt Himself, so if He’s currently working among the church, there’s no reason to jump in with something different, causing confusion.
  2. Although the prince has his own gate & place of worship, notice that he also has time among the people.  Vs. 10: “The prince shall then be in their midst.”  He is a man appointed by God for a specific purpose, with a specific role, but he is not so above the people in such a way that he cannot mingle with them.  Even in the Millennial Kingdom, each person has his/her role, but there is only one congregation of the people of God.  They are all united together.

11 At the festivals and the appointed feast days the grain offering shall be an ephah for a bull, an ephah for a ram, as much as he wants to give for the lambs, and a hin of oil with every ephah. 12 “Now when the prince makes a voluntary burnt offering or voluntary peace offering to the LORD, the gate that faces toward the east shall then be opened for him; and he shall prepare his burnt offering and his peace offerings as he did on the Sabbath day. Then he shall go out, and after he goes out the gate shall be shut.

  1. More specifications for offerings are given, and a note is made about “voluntary” offerings given from the prince to God.  Not every offering was made in response to sin; some were to be made from a heart full of worship.  And the good news for the prince was that he didn’t have to wait until the Sabbath or New Moon to do it.  If he felt like giving a free will offering, then the eastern gate would open for him at any time.
  2. That’s great for the prince, but it’s even better for us.  As NT believers, we never have to wait for special days or times or buildings to give our worship to the Lord.  We can do it wherever, whenever.  We can worship Jesus anywhere we want – we can pray to Him at any time that we have time – we have true freedom!  Why?  Because He is always with us!  Remember that as a born-again believer, you are the temple of the Holy Spirit.  Wherever you go, the Spirit of God is with you.  Thus you have freedom to go before the throne of God at any time.  You don’t have to wait to walk into a church building in order to pray – you don’t have to wait for a pastor to come along & lead you in prayer – as a child of God, you are part of the priesthood of believers, and you can do that yourself at any time!
  3. Although offerings were made on a weekly & monthly basis – they were also to be made daily.  Vs. 13…

13 “You shall daily make a burnt offering to the LORD of a lamb of the first year without blemish; you shall prepare it every morning. 14 And you shall prepare a grain offering with it every morning, a sixth of an ephah, and a third of a hin of oil to moisten the fine flour. This grain offering is a perpetual ordinance, to be made regularly to the LORD. 15 Thus they shall prepare the lamb, the grain offering, and the oil, as a regular burnt offering every morning.”

  1. A similar command was given during the Mosaic covenant.  Likewise, a burnt offering was commanded every morning (Num 28:23), with the fire from that offering to be burning upon the altar all day long (Lev 6:9-12).  Every time that a Hebrew among the wilderness congregation looked towards the tabernacle, he/she would see smoke rising from the altar as a constant reminder of the wages of sin.  The same thing is to take place during the Millennial Kingdom.  A young lamb is to be offered every single morning as a burnt offering – meaning that it is to be wholly consumed by the fire as a symbol of the people being fully consecrated to the Lord God.  Along with that is the grain offering, as a symbol of the fellowship enjoyed between God & His people.  This is always offered with oil, typically a symbol of the Holy Spirit.  (There may even be a hint of the Trinity pictured in the three elements, though this is not specified anywhere in the text.)  The whole point is daily offering for daily sin as a reminder of their total forgiveness which was made complete through the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

16 ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “If the prince gives a gift of some of his inheritance to any of his sons, it shall belong to his sons; it is their possession by inheritance. 17 But if he gives a gift of some of his inheritance to one of his servants, it shall be his until the year of liberty, after which it shall return to the prince. But his inheritance shall belong to his sons; it shall become theirs.

  1. The subject changes a bit here to that of inheritance laws governing the prince & his family.  Since the Millennial Kingdom will last 1000 years (by definition), the prince will have the opportunity to raise up sons & provide inheritances for them.  Those inheritances will come from the land that is set aside specifically for the prince within the Holy District (which we’ll see a bit later in Ch. 48).  That land is always to be set aside for the prince & his children, as their perpetual inheritance from the Lord.  The prince will be allowed to give some of that land to faithful servants, but per the law of the year of Jubilee (Lev 25), all the land will return to the original owners.  The Jubilee may not have been kept during the years of the original kingdom, but it will most definitely be kept during the Millennium.
  2. BTW – This is proof that the future prince in the Millennial Temple cannot be the Lord Jesus Christ.  There are theories that it might be the resurrected David, or perhaps some yet-to-be-born descendant of the Davidic line, but it cannot be the Lord Jesus.  Jesus does not have sons.  His bride is not a single physical woman; it is us as the Church.  Thus no descendants will come from the line of Jesus, and this Scripture is completely irrelevant to Him.  The same principle is seen in vs. 18…

18 Moreover the prince shall not take any of the people’s inheritance by evicting them from their property; he shall provide an inheritance for his sons from his own property, so that none of My people may be scattered from his property.” ’ ”

  1. Just like the Lord Jesus has no sons of whom He would grant an inheritance, He has no need of a law that would forbid Him from committing injustice.  He is perfectly righteous, and would never cause someone undue harm.  Other humans on the other hand, no matter what their divinely appointed role might be, are still humans.  The future Millennial prince (whomever he might be) still needs to be governed by God, and that’s what happens here.  The prince is freely allowed to grant land inheritances to his sons from the land that is appointed to him by God; the prince is not allowed to take land from anyone else to do it.  Unlike royals of the past, who cheated people out of land (i.e. Ahab & Jezebel), the future prince will act according to the righteous standard of God.
  2. What’s the reason God gives for this? “So that none of My people may be scattered from his property.”  God will give them that land as a gift.  His gifts are not for sale, nor are they up for grabs.  What God gives is irrevocable. (Rom 11:29)
    1. This is wonderful news when it comes to the gift of our salvation!  This is not something He is going to snatch away from us – nor is it something that be stolen by the devil.  What God gives to you, you keep!

19 Now he brought me through the entrance, which was at the side of the gate, into the holy chambers of the priests which face toward the north; and there a place was situated at their extreme western end. 20 And he said to me, “This is the place where the priests shall boil the trespass offering and the sin offering, and where they shall bake the grain offering, so that they do not bring them out into the outer court to sanctify the people.”

  1. There were more rooms to see, and the angel took Ezekiel to the temple kitchens.  As he did, he mentioned to Ezekiel why the kitchens were inside the temple, rather than outside among the people.  If the already-offered sacrifices were prepared outside, then the people might accidentally come in contact with them and be ceremonially sanctified.
  2. Question: Is that such a bad thing?  If it isn’t ordained by God, then yes.  The priests were specifically given this role, and they had God Himself as their inheritance.  They were the ones designated to eat of the offerings, in that this is one way God provided for them.  God had a different inheritance in mind for the rest of the people.  It’s not that one was bad & the other better; it’s that each were different.  God had different roles for them, and they weren’t supposed to get confused.
    1. Has God given a gift or calling to someone else that you wanted for yourself?  Don’t get jealous.  Instead, look to what God has given you.  Those are things He has specifically appointed to you as an individual – no better or worse than anyone else in His Church; just different.  Celebrate those differences!  That’s part of the glory of the manifest body of Christ!
  3. Ezekiel goes on to describe the kitchens.  Vs. 21…

21 Then he brought me out into the outer court and caused me to pass by the four corners of the court; and in fact, in every corner of the court there was another court. 22 In the four corners of the court were enclosed courts, forty cubits long and thirty wide; all four corners were the same size. 23 There was a row of building stones all around in them, all around the four of them; and cooking hearths were made under the rows of stones all around. 24 And he said to me, “These are the kitchens where the ministers of the temple shall boil the sacrifices of the people.”

  1. That’s a lot of kitchen space!  But then again, it would be necessary for a lot of sacrifices.  No doubt some Levites are going to be specifically set apart as holy chefs.  That’s a lot of boiled meat & barbecue to watch over!

To this point, there’s been a lot said about the temple itself, as well as the things taking place within it.  What about the rest of the land?  What happens outside the temple?  Ezekiel gets a bit of a preview of that as well, all starting in Ch. 47…

Ezekiel 47 – Healing River & Restored Land
1 Then he brought me back to the door of the temple; and there was water, flowing from under the threshold of the temple toward the east, for the front of the temple faced east; the water was flowing from under the right side of the temple, south of the altar. 2 He brought me out by way of the north gate, and led me around on the outside to the outer gateway that faces east; and there was water, running out on the right side.

  1. The first thing Ezekiel sees is a stream of water – at least, something that starts out as a stream.  It’s going to turn into a river, soon enough.  The river seems to originate at the temple, and proceed eastward out of the temple complex. 
  2. It’s interesting to note that Rev 22 also talks of a river of life proceeding from the throne of God (Rev 22:1), but it’s important to note that these are different rivers.  The Millennial Kingdom is the precursor to the eternal state, and although the reality of Jesus’ reign as King does not change, the physical nature of the earth will indeed change.  After the completion of the Millennial Kingdom, heaven and earth will flee from the face of God, and He will conduct the Great White Throne Judgment.  After that, there will be a new heaven & new earth appear, because the first one will have passed away (Rev 21:1).  Along with that is a New Jerusalem, and it is from that city that the new throne of God will be.  That being the case, this must be a different river, if for no other reason because it is on a different earth.  It seems to be replicated in the eternal state, but it has to be recreated in the New Jerusalem.
  3. Just as the angel who accompanied Ezekiel measured the temple, he also measured the river.  Vs. 3…

3 And when the man went out to the east with the line in his hand, he measured one thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the water came up to my ankles. 4 Again he measured one thousand and brought me through the waters; the water came up to my knees. Again he measured one thousand and brought me through; the water came up to my waist. 5 Again he measured one thousand, and it was a river that I could not cross; for the water was too deep, water in which one must swim, a river that could not be crossed. 6 He said to me, “Son of man, have you seen this?” Then he brought me and returned me to the bank of the river.

  1. The basic idea here is that the angel and Ezekiel start walking out, and every third of a mile, they stop to get an idea of the depth of the waters.  It continues to grow deeper and wider the further out Ezekiel goes.  One has to wonder if perhaps Jesus had this in mind during the Feast of Tabernacles, as He stood up during the traditional drawing of water from the pool of Siloam, and invited people to come to Him in faith: John 7:37–39, "(37) On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. (38) He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (39) But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified."  Truly waters of life do flow from those to believe upon Jesus Christ.  The Spirit gives us eternal life just as surely as will this future temple-river provide life to all it touches.  

7 When I returned, there, along the bank of the river, were very many trees on one side and the other. 8 Then he said to me: “This water flows toward the eastern region, goes down into the valley, and enters the sea. When it reaches the sea, its waters are healed. 9 And it shall be that every living thing that moves, wherever the rivers go, will live. There will be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters go there; for they will be healed, and everything will live wherever the river goes.

  1. This river truly does bring healing & life!  It flows from the temple all the way to the Dead Sea, and there, “its waters are healed.”  The Dead Sea is 1400ft below sea level, and has 9.6x as much salt as the ocean.  It is so salty that no fish nor plants are able to grow there.  Yet what happens in the Millennium?  The temple river brings life to the Dead Sea!  So many fish will inhabit the sea that it’ll be a natural spot for fishermen.  Vs. 10…

10 It shall be that fishermen will stand by it from En Gedi to En Eglaim; they will be places for spreading their nets. Their fish will be of the same kinds as the fish of the Great Sea, exceedingly many. 11 But its swamps and marshes will not be healed; they will be given over to salt. 12 Along the bank of the river, on this side and that, will grow all kinds of trees used for food; their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. They will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine.”

  1. The picture is that of an extraordinarily blessed place!  Fishermen can hardly fish it enough – fruit trees flourish – plants watered by the healing waters themselves become medicinal.  It will be an amazing time, one truly blessed by the Lord!
  2. Note: this is a real description of a real location.  When Ezekiel writes that the fishermen stand “from En Gedi to En Eglaim,” he is writing about actual places.  There’s no legitimate way to spiritualize this away to some mysterious cryptic reference to the church age and evangelism – not without doing great violence to the text.  We might find application in all kinds of ways, but in our interpretation we must first be faithful to what is actually written on the page.  And what is written there is about a literal place in a literal time – one that has not happened yet, but will certainly come to pass.
  3. BTW – what is the note about swamps remaining salty all about?  Typically language like that would be thought of as a curse, but this entire context is one of blessing, which means that Ezekiel probably has another meaning in mind.  It’s uncertain, but it potentially refers to the idea that not all salt will be eliminated from the area around the Dead Sea.  The marshes & surrounding areas were common locations for the Jews to physically gather salt, and salt would be necessary in sacrifices & common cooking.  This may just be a practical note of where Jews can continue to find their salt during the Millennium.

13 Thus says the Lord GOD: “These are the borders by which you shall divide the land as an inheritance among the twelve tribes of Israel. Joseph shall have two portions. 14 You shall inherit it equally with one another; for I raised My hand in an oath to give it to your fathers, and this land shall fall to you as your inheritance.

  1. There’s not just a river & temple complex – there’s a whole massive area of countryside designated for the Kingdom of Israel.  God had promised that the nation of Israel would one day live in a renewed, established homeland, and that’s exactly what God goes on to describe.  He starts from the north…

15 “This shall be the border of the land on the north: from the Great Sea, by the road to Hethlon, as one goes to Zedad, 16 Hamath, Berothah, Sibraim (which is between the border of Damascus and the border of Hamath), to Hazar Hatticon (which is on the border of Hauran). 17 Thus the boundary shall be from the Sea to Hazar Enan, the border of Damascus; and as for the north, northward, it is the border of Hamath. This is the north side. 18 “On the east side you shall mark out the border from between Hauran and Damascus, and between Gilead and the land of Israel, along the Jordan, and along the eastern side of the sea. This is the east side. 19 “The south side, toward the South, shall be from Tamar to the waters of Meribah by Kadesh, along the brook to the Great Sea. This is the south side, toward the South. 20 “The west side shall be the Great Sea, from the southern boundary until one comes to a point opposite Hamath. This is the west side.

  1. He basically describes the larger borders.  The individual tribal divisions will come in Ch 48, as He goes on to describe…

21 “Thus you shall divide this land among yourselves according to the tribes of Israel. 22 It shall be that you will divide it by lot as an inheritance for yourselves, and for the strangers who dwell among you and who bear children among you. They shall be to you as native-born among the children of Israel; they shall have an inheritance with you among the tribes of Israel. 23 And it shall be that in whatever tribe the stranger dwells, there you shall give him his inheritance,” says the Lord GOD.

  1. Who will live there?  Israel…but not only Israel.  Strangers will dwell among them as well.  Just because someone is not born among ethnic Israel does not mean he/she will automatically be excluded from the blessings of dwelling in the Kingdom.  God has a plan & purpose for His people, but anyone who worship the Lord Jesus in Spirit and truth is welcome in the Kingdom!

Ezekiel 48 – Tribal Sections and Holy District
1 “Now these are the names of the tribes: From the northern border along the road to Hethlon at the entrance of Hamath, to Hazar Enan, the border of Damascus northward, in the direction of Hamath, there shall be one section for Dan from its east to its west side;

  1. There are designated areas for each of the tribes of Israel, and God begins to list them off going from north to south.  Instead of the tribes dwelling in & around each other (as they did in the past), they are neatly arranged side-by-side.  Starting with Dan, God lists off the first half of the tribes…

2 by the border of Dan, from the east side to the west, one section for Asher; 3 by the border of Asher, from the east side to the west, one section for Naphtali; 4 by the border of Naphtali, from the east side to the west, one section for Manasseh; 5 by the border of Manasseh, from the east side to the west, one section for Ephraim; 6 by the border of Ephraim, from the east side to the west, one section for Reuben; 7 by the border of Reuben, from the east side to the west, one section for Judah; 8 by the border of Judah, from the east side to the west, shall be the district which you shall set apart, twenty-five thousand cubits in width, and in length the same as one of the other portions, from the east side to the west, with the sanctuary in the center.

  1. Halfway through the tribal divisions, God sets apart a district for Himself, where the temple complex & Holy City will be.  Just as the District of Columbia (Washington DC) is set apart by itself, not belonging to any one state, so will the Holy District be set apart from the inheritance of land given out to the tribes of Israel.

9 “The district that you shall set apart for the LORD shall be twenty-five thousand cubits in length and ten thousand in width. 10 To these—to the priests—the holy district shall belong: on the north twenty-five thousand cubits in length, on the west ten thousand in width, on the east ten thousand in width, and on the south twenty-five thousand in length. The sanctuary of the LORD shall be in the center. 11 It shall be for the priests of the sons of Zadok, who are sanctified, who have kept My charge, who did not go astray when the children of Israel went astray, as the Levites went astray. 12 And this district of land that is set apart shall be to them a thing most holy by the border of the Levites.

  1. Some of this same description was already given in Ch. 45, and the designation of the sons of Zadok as priests was already mentioned in Ch. 40 & 44.  The reiteration here simply shows it in the midst of the other tribes, yet set apart for God.

13 “Opposite the border of the priests, the Levites shall have an area twenty-five thousand cubits in length and ten thousand in width; its entire length shall be twenty-five thousand and its width ten thousand. 14 And they shall not sell or exchange any of it; they may not alienate this best part of the land, for it is holy to the LORD.

  1. The Levites & priests each have land given to them by the Lord.  No longer will there be Levitical cities scattered throughout the kingdom; they will all dwell in one holy city – a gift provided for them by the Lord.
  2. The rest of the city is described…vs. 15…

15 “The five thousand cubits in width that remain, along the edge of the twenty-five thousand, shall be for general use by the city, for dwellings and common-land; and the city shall be in the center. 16 These shall be its measurements: the north side four thousand five hundred cubits, the south side four thousand five hundred, the east side four thousand five hundred, and the west side four thousand five hundred. 17 The common-land of the city shall be: to the north two hundred and fifty cubits, to the south two hundred and fifty, to the east two hundred and fifty, and to the west two hundred and fifty. 18 The rest of the length, alongside the district of the holy section, shall be ten thousand cubits to the east and ten thousand to the west. It shall be adjacent to the district of the holy section, and its produce shall be food for the workers of the city. 19 The workers of the city, from all the tribes of Israel, shall cultivate it. 20 The entire district shall be twenty-five thousand cubits by twenty-five thousand cubits, foursquare. You shall set apart the holy district with the property of the city.

  1. Apparently other people dwell in the city besides priests & Levites.  A representative sample of people from the other tribes of Israel will cultivate farmland for city-food.  All in an orderly manner, God lists their lands as well.

21 “The rest shall belong to the prince, on one side and on the other of the holy district and of the city’s property, next to the twenty-five thousand cubits of the holy district as far as the eastern border, and westward next to the twenty-five thousand as far as the western border, adjacent to the tribal portions; it shall belong to the prince. It shall be the holy district, and the sanctuary of the temple shall be in the center. 22 Moreover, apart from the possession of the Levites and the possession of the city which are in the midst of what belongs to the prince, the area between the border of Judah and the border of Benjamin shall belong to the prince.

  1. Finally, the lands are designated for the prince.  Afterwards, the other half of the tribes of Israel have their lands described.

23 “As for the rest of the tribes, from the east side to the west, Benjamin shall have one section; 24 by the border of Benjamin, from the east side to the west, Simeon shall have one section; 25 by the border of Simeon, from the east side to the west, Issachar shall have one section; 26 by the border of Issachar, from the east side to the west, Zebulun shall have one section; 27 by the border of Zebulun, from the east side to the west, Gad shall have one section; 28 by the border of Gad, on the south side, toward the South, the border shall be from Tamar to the waters of Meribah by Kadesh, along the brook to the Great Sea. 29 This is the land which you shall divide by lot as an inheritance among the tribes of Israel, and these are their portions,” says the Lord GOD.

  1. One aspect that makes all of this description of the land so interesting is when a side-by-side comparison is done with the land that was originally promised to Israel by God in Numbers 34.  Although the nation occupied much of it, it never really got the full amount.  They actually went beyond their borders to the north during the kingdoms of David & Solomon, but they never truly fulfilled the area God allowed for them originally.  During the Millennium, they will.  There will be a few changes in the north, potentially due to change in topography after the Great Tribulation – but what God promised, Israel would receive.
    1. What God promises, God fulfills…always!

30 “These are the exits of the city. On the north side, measuring four thousand five hundred cubits 31 (the gates of the city shall be named after the tribes of Israel), the three gates northward: one gate for Reuben, one gate for Judah, and one gate for Levi; 32 on the east side, four thousand five hundred cubits, three gates: one gate for Joseph, one gate for Benjamin, and one gate for Dan; 33 on the south side, measuring four thousand five hundred cubits, three gates: one gate for Simeon, one gate for Issachar, and one gate for Zebulun; 34 on the west side, four thousand five hundred cubits with their three gates: one gate for Gad, one gate for Asher, and one gate for Naphtali. 35 All the way around shall be eighteen thousand cubits; …

  1. The city itself is described, with a gate being named for every tribe of Israel.  But those aren’t the most important names.  That comes at the end of vs. 35…

…and the name of the city from that day shall be: THE LORD IS THERE.

  1. That’s the best part!  The Lord will dwell among His people! יְהוָ֥ה׀ שָֽׁמָּה The Covenant-keeping Ever-existent God of Israel has taken up residence among His people, and His dwelling place is right there.  Truly for Israel, it will be heaven on earth!  After all, what more could they want?

The book began with the reality of God’s people having been taken out of the promised land, and eventually showed God’s very presence departing from His temple.  It ends with a renewed nation, renewed temple, and (best of all) renewed relationship with God.  What the people had lost due to their sin will all be restored through the grace of God – and that is a promise upon which they can bank!

These are things incredibly important to the Jewish people, but they are also important to us.  After all, their God is our God.  The God who showers them with grace has showered us with grace.  This is another expression of His glory, and in it, we can rejoice!  We can especially rejoice as we see the day drawing nearer.  We know what is coming, so we don’t need to worry as we see storm clouds of war on the horizon.  We know what God is doing, and although things are bound to look worse before they look better…they will look much better when God acts according to His promise!  And best of all, more people get saved!  We look forward to a day when all Israel will know Jesus as the Lord Messiah.  The angels rejoice now over a single soul who comes to faith in Christ & is saved…imagine the rejoicing when an entire nation does the same!

Join in the celebration now.  Worship the Lord God not only for the grace in which we live, but for the grace He is yet to bestow upon people.  Worship Him for the promise of grace still to come…for it is indeed coming!

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